The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 8/From My Much-Honour'd Friend at Heldelville


HAIL to the sage, who, from his native store,
Produc'd a science never known before,

Science of words, once jargon of the schools,
The plague of wise men, and the boast of fools,
Made easy now and useful in your rules!
Where wit and humour equally combine,

Our mirth at once to raise and to refine,
Till now not half the worth of sounds we knew,
Their virtual value was reserv'd for you.
To trace their various mazes, and set forth
Their hidden force, and multiply their worth;
For if t' express one sense our words we choose,
A double meaning is of double use.
Hail, sacred Art! by what mysterious name
Shall I adore thee, various, and the same?
The Muses' Proteus, skill'd with grateful change,
Through all the pleasing forms of wit to range
In quick succession, yet retain through all
Some faint resemblance of th' original.
Hail, fairest offspring of prodigious birth,
At once the parent and the child of Mirth!
With Chloe's charms thy airy form can vie,
And with thy smiles as many thousands die;
The pleasing pain through all their vitals thrills,
With subtle force, and tickles as it kills.
Thee too, like her, the dying swains pursue,
As gay, as careless, as inconstant too;

To raise yet more thy merit and thy fame,
The Cyprian Goddess glories in thy name,
Pleas'd to be thought the laughter-loving dame.
Nor less thy praise, nor less thy power to wound,

Thou lovely, fleeting, image of a sound.